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Should I consider Cucumber for my automation project?

Should I consider Cucumber for my automation project? In a tech-driven world, I’ve had my fair share of experience using the cucumber tool for BDD or behavior-driven development. In my experience paired with market research, the BDD approach has its fair share of perks and limitations. Despite the nature of the scenario, the developer has many options to test the functionality within the framework of cucumber BDD.

Cucumber for my automation project – What Exactly Is BDD?

In layman’s terms, BDD or behavior-driven development refers to a software development approach that allows developers to create tests through practical and concrete examples. Development involves using the English-language natural constructs in the form of sentences to showcase the behavior and potential outcomes. 

I’ve had the experience to work with diverse cross-functional teams and cucumber BDD comes across as incredibly helpful. But to make the most out of it, it requires involving technical as well as non-technical members of the team to define specific behavioral parameters of the software. At its core, BDD revolves around user-based scenarios that describe the desired behavior of the client for planned software.

Remember that functional grouping is not always the priority and focus turns to user roles. Of course, this approach works on the assumption that each user of an organization will take different actions with the same information. Field agents collect the information and area managers analyze the information and then report to the organization.

Cucumber for my automation project. What Are the Pros of Utilizing BDD?

Team Collaboration

One of the perks of using BDD is that it fosters more collaboration across developers, testers, and business users. These three musketeers work together to brainstorm the potential behavior and specifications of an application or product. BDD cuts out the traditional hierarchical collaboration and instructs all involved parties to be on the same page.

Live Documentation

BDD approach allows developers to render a feedback loop to maintain connections across tests and documentation. In a modern sense, live documentation refers to an accurate representation of the overall functionalities of a product or software solution.

Easy-to-Understand Domain Language

BDD encourages the use of formal and specific domain language that is easy to understand. In fact, the DSL or domain-specific language covers the terms related to the business domain and defines the overall project specifications. This approach is an effective way to avoid common misunderstandings and contributes to improve the understanding of the project by team members.

Tester Involvement and Automation

Testers understand that the involvement begins earlier in any project life cycle, specification, and analysis stage. Right from the start, BDD instructs the testers to make the most out of their analytical skills on the project. Also, BDD drives the automated creation of tests. Unlike old school tactics, BDD puts a genuine emphasis on the creation of automated tests in the early stages.

Executable Specifications and Acceptance Tests

One of the benefits of using BDD is that it propels teams to define acceptance tests and specifications in much smaller and manageable units. Defining unique scenarios in feature files allows team members to pay close attention to specifications. The ideal consideration is to write detailed specifications upfront and write tests prior to the development of the code.

Flexibility, Onboarding, and Traceability

The right approach at the right time heightens project flexibility. Not to mention, I’ve witnessed the use of BDD to onboard new team members more efficiently. Developed tests from unique BDD scenarios should be able to direct to executable specifications.

As a result, traceability across tests and subsequent requirements are built-in in the early stages. It offers more practical and detailed reporting coverage at each requirement level. With the right setup and tools, the BDD method makes traceability easier to execute and manage.

What Are the Cons of Utilizing BDD?

Time-consuming

One of the disadvantages of using BDD is that it comes with excessive time overhead to create and maintain project scenarios. Despite the nature of a project, scenario, and specifications, developers concur that it takes a lot of effort and time to make the most out of BDD.

Even small and one-time projects can have a long lifespan and require initiation in the early stages to set up BDD. For instance, retrofitting BDD to a current project can take a significant amount of time and complicate the process at the same time.

Data-based Testing

Yes, there is a good chance you can the information erroneously and make it part of the data strategy. Of course, you can define a long list of setup conditions based on scenario statements. However, this approach becomes more complicated over time.

Structuring Issues

It requires careful consideration and planning to structure all features on scenarios, executable specifications, and files. Failure to get it right in the BDD setup creates more challenges for the developer responsible for writing the test automated code.

Requires Collective Participation

On top of adding an extra layer of complexity, using BDD requires participation from three key players such as developers, testers, and business users. One of the cons of using BDD is that business users are often not able to contextualize or understand scenarios. And in my experience, it is more common than teams realize.

Using BDD: Cases

I’ve had the privilege to work on various projects using BDD practices. For instance, in one of the projects, a few teams used cucumber BDD while the other team used another dedicated software solution. Interestingly, the results from both methods were quite similar.

In one project, a combination of developers and testers used the BDD framework focusing on the behavior. But the people who hadn’t had a chance to use it before were not able to automate anything. Instead, they wrote gherkin statements so that developers can execute the code.

However, developers didn’t lean towards this approach. In fact, most developers at the time were not utilizing BDD. When the time comes to review scripts for both projects, I found a lot of inconsistencies.  But to be fair, in both cases, BDD was not being used properly.

Instead, the focus was just to get the development team to understand the business functions. This type of framework does not work out and makes it difficult to meet testing requirements. And as mentioned earlier, if you’re planning to use BDD, then focus on “your” user stories. And in terms of automation, make sure automated testing becomes easier for the entire team.

Suitable Suggestions to Avoid Potential Obstacles 

The last thing you want to do is view BDD as a mere testing tool. Instead, understand its capabilities and use cases and how it can work for “your” teams with specific scenarios. It is also vital to maintain Gherkin as well as step definitions to improve overall collaboration. Again, businesses, developers, and QA have to be involved in the meetings to move forward in the right direction. And most importantly, business analysts should adopt and embrace BDD practices.

Final Thoughts Should I consider Cucumber for my automation project?

Ensuring reusability can add up a lot of time. I’ve completed a wide range of projects using cucumber BDD and a good part of it depends on “how” you use it to reap its benefits. As long as the production is ready and you’re aware of the step definitions, you can dive into testing.

The hallmark aspect of any BDD project development comes down to its user stories. Out of all the projects I’ve been part of – it would be fair to state that the benefits of using cucumber BDD outweigh its pitfalls. In most projects, communication and readability between testers and analysts can make all the difference.

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REFERENCES:

  1. https://youtu.be/EqsL64uk1Q4
  2. https://youtu.be/bA_DQHoxj34
  3. https://nljug.org/java-magazine/effectief-automatisch-testen-met-cucumber/?cn-reloaded=1
  4. https://www.reddit.com/r/softwaretesting/comments/qqlvie/tell_me_about_your_experience_using_bdd_and/
  5. https://cucumber.io/docs
  6. https://www.agilest.org/devops/behavior-driven-development/
  7. https://www.softwaretestingclass.com/cucumber-bdd-framework/
  8. https://cucumber.io/docs/bdd/
  9. https://www.kloia.com/blog/simplify-cucumber-steps
March 17, 2022

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